"The Common Good" - used by Dems, it translates as "we still don't know what to say" - Granite Grok

“The Common Good” – used by Dems, it translates as “we still don’t know what to say”



Ha!  I can finally use a computer word to make fun of Democrats trying to out-wordsmith Republicans!  That word is "overload".  The definition that I wish to use is when a single word can have multiple definitions.  While it is always better that a word mean one thing and one thing only, in some cases (or programming languages), this might be ok (not preferred, but ok) given that context can fill in the definition and scope of reference.  However, we do have to realize that American English is just chock filled with words that we commonly use in multiple ways (e.g., let’s go to the ball, have a ball, throw the ball). 

Well, same thing exists in politicalese. Democrats (as with homosexuals absconding with the word "Gay" or atheists attempting to take the word "Bright" for themselves) are trying to now own the phrase "common good"; there can’t be anything but trouble for rest of us (or perhaps, them).

In this article in the Wall Street Journal, the Democratic Prez candidates can’t even agree what it means:

At stake is the notion of "common good," which many Democrats are embracing as a new framework for expressing their vision of broader opportunity and equality.

They see it as an effective way to talk about economic fairness — and reduce the Republicans’ big advantage in the linguistic arms race.

Right, let’s just add one more word to the pile that Democrats already abuse like:

  • Progressive = Liberal (but being smart about it….or is that smart-a** about it?)
  • Invest = spend your money my way
  • Social Justice = I have no idea what this means anymore, but it generally isn’t good for most middle class white guys trying to take care of our families – no matter what we do or say, we’re the guilty party.
  • Income Inequity = You’re earning way more than me, so let’s take it away from you because we all know you cheated us out of our fair share (see below) to get it.  This assumes that income is a fixed pie universe to work; problem is, we all know that the pie is always expanding.  But hey, who needs facts in politics!
  • Fair Share = once again, I dunno (see Social Justice, above)….  My question:  how come only Liberals get to decide what is fair (and they sqawk that I generally don’t play fair)?

So now, we not only have to listen to them, we need a translator to figure out what they mean when their mouths flap!  Why can’t they just be straight forward, use plain language and just  really say what they mean (oh, sorry….that would be like George Bush and we can’t have that can we?).

Oh, that’s right – McGovern DID try that philosophy ("I will raise your taxes") and lost – not just big time, but HUGE time!

So, they take another tack and try to confrustrate us all – sounds good, must be good, right? Mmmm, not so fast:

For much of the last decade or so, many Democrats complain, conservative strategists have been running rhetorical circles around Democrats with focus-grouped phrases such as "death tax" and "ownership society" that buttress Republicans’ probusiness, free-market views. Meanwhile, Democrats’ populist-style attacks on big business during the last two presidential elections — for instance, by Al Gore and John Kerry — have come across to many voters as shrill and outmoded.

Especially with this study, it seems that Democrats, no longer the Republicans, are now the party of big money.  This is like John Edwards with the gazillion square foot house posing as a middle classer (all the while his wife is angry at the across the street neighbor for failing to keep up his property, making their property worth less….egads, he’s a Republican too!).

Based on ancient philosophy and Roman Catholic social teaching, "common good" is becoming a poll-tested mainstay of Democratic rhetoric. Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Barack Obama and Bill Richardson are using the phrase frequently in stump speeches and position papers.

You mean that the Democrats are finally finding religion?  Does that mean now that they will start to adhere (at least those that profess to be Catholics) to their Church’s teachings?  Can we expect them to reject pro-choice stances and be against abortions, as the Roman Catholic Church teaches?

Naw, didn’t think so…..this is political opportunism at its worst. Look, I’m not Catholic; I’m an Evangelical Christian.  My contention is that you really cannot pick and choose what part of a religion’s doctrine you will or will not support, especially one like this.  But I am absolutely not in favor of picking and choosing for the mere sake of political persuasion.

One little problem: No one agrees on exactly what it means, potentially compromising its effectiveness as a rallying cry for the Democratic Party.

Heh! (adopted / stolen from Glen Reynolds of Instapundit fame, who is wont to say to indicate amusing derision!). That’s right, let’s agree on something to bash the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy – and then fail to agree on what it is:

Mr. Edwards, the former North Carolina senator, is using it in progressive fashion, to refer to leveling the economic playing field and backing strong unions and universal health care. Sen. Obama of Illinois uses it in a more centrist sense, to mean shared duties and responsibilities, not only among classes but between the two parties. Sen. Clinton of New York uses it in both ways.

Good luck with that.  While there may be things, small things, that lie in between the parties philosophically, there are many that are not.  When one party proposes that which is anathema to the other, there may well be no way to compromise.

Personal example – I am totally against free universal health care (it will be neither free or universal and not amount of gum-beating can change that economic fact), totally against allowing illegal immigrants have benefits that should be going to our legal residents, and am totally against pulling our troops out of Iraq (they claim to be able to end the war simply by pulling the troops out; they remain silent of the fact that it takes TWO sides to end a war and one of them has to admit to defeat).

So, where is the common ground? 

The phrase first began to surface on the political scene in 2003 and 2004 as economic inequality and the Iraq invasion helped galvanize fears among progressives that traditional American values were being swamped by a rising tide of selfishness. Seeking a framework for voicing their opposing view, religious progressives turned to the concept of the common good, an ancient idea with roots in Aristotle and Augustine.

Let’s talk about "selfishness" – is it the proper role of government to combat selfishness? Is it proper for Liberals to harness the power of government (e.g., taxation and enforcement) to force people to share? Is this an extension of Political Correctness that we must all think the same?  I’m all for people sharing – but on a VOLUNTARY basis.

And I think this totally shows the moral bankruptness of the Liberals and the enlightedness of Conservatives:  actions of kindness and sharing are best when they are based on individual choice and action (Conservatives).  When coerced by government (at the behest of Liberals) ,it is no longer charity by definition.  And as Dr. Arthur C. Brooks ("Who Really Cares – The Surprising Truth of Compassionate Conservatism", More on Dr. Arthur C. Brooks here and here) discovered, government raising taxes to do more "good works" results in less volunteerism and giving by individuals.

So, is that what you want?  Is that what they really want? 

Once again, Liberals going for what sounds good and not what actually does good!

Nailing down exactly what the common good means is proving to be a slippery task. Some liberals behind the original common-good initiative believe the movement’s agenda should include specifics like universal health care, affordable broadband access, more public-works jobs, stronger union protections, fairer global-trade rules and tax rules that favor workers over investors.

That is generally the approach that former Sen. Edwards takes. "Universal health care, ending poverty, tax fairness, strong unions, a cleaner environment, better schools — all of these important policies are [part of] the common good," said campaign spokeswoman Colleen Murray. It also involves "taking on the narrow interests that care more about what’s good for them than what’s good for America," she adds.

Other campaigns have taken the idea in different directions. "Barack Obama uses the phrase ‘common good’ to express his fundamental belief that all Americans want to get beyond the divisive politics of the last seven years and come together as one country," said spokeswoman Jen Psaki. "He is running for president because he believes that America needs a president who has the ability to unite this country around a common purpose."

In the 2008 campaign, Mrs. Clinton has used the theme in both senses.

At a candidate forum on CNN over the summer, a questioner asked how her common-good theme plays out on specific issues like taxes, gun control, health care and energy. It "requires people giving up a little bit of their own turf, in order to create this common ground," Mrs. Clinton responded. But if necessary, she added, that "means something has to be taken away from some people."

A senior adviser to Mrs. Clinton says she views the common good primarily as a way to answer the "on your own" tendencies of Bush administration economic policies, which have helped a few do well, and left the majority standing in place. "She’s drawn a sharp contrast between the Bush a
dministration’s extreme sense of individualism, versus some investment in the common good," the adviser said.

All this frustrates many liberal activists who initially embraced the phrase as a forceful way for Democrats to express moral outrage over the failure of conservative policies.

Alright, so let’s run all of these things through the prism of the word "freedom" as defined by Skip, shall we? And let’s keep it simple – my definition is easy to understand: freedom is defined by the choices I can make.  The more I am allowed to make choices for myself, the more freedom I have.  When my choices are constrained by others, the less freedom I have. 

  • Universal Healthcare – All I have to say is that John Edwards will REQUIRE me to see a doctor and say "Britain" and "Canada".  It will require me to change my life style over time so as not to be a "drag" on the system.  Less freedom (more and more over time – you can take that to the bank!)
  • Affordable broadband access – WHY is this a function of government?  Nice to have, but this is commerce, plain and simple.  Yes, those without it are at a disadvantage Internet-wise, but if this is valuable to you, MOVE! This will cause me to lose some of my private property that otherwise would be mine to control (yes, money).  Less freedom.
  • More public works jobs – The WPA back in the 1930s did Public Works and did employ millions.   But ask yourself – where did the government get the money to pay for them?  Be honest, now.  And this set the stage for more policies by FDR, which all historians, was the beginning of really big government in America and started the walk towards socialism – hardly the ideals of our Founding Fathers.  Less freedom
  • Stronger union protections – in no way does this enhance my freedom.  It only diminishes mine, as unions ordinarily will drive costs up. One only has to look at the UAW and what it has done to the Big Three (ok, Medium Three) for their cost basis and how they are slumping.  Also, look at what the UAW has done to its own membership – they are one third the size of what they used to be during the height of the American car industry.

As opposed to the American car industry run by foreign auto makers.  Less freedom.

  • Fairer global trade rules -The real simple answer is not more rules but allow more effective use of capitalism.  Since its beginning, capitalism has raised the living standard of the common folks at a skyrocketing pace since the Industrial Revolution compared to time immemorial.  In other countries, it is their governments corruption, their failure to grow reasonable infrastructures, and ignoring the fundamentals of capitialism underpinnings – the Rule of Law, respect for Intellectual and Private Property (of all types), and free trad among interested parties that prevents their citizens from realizing their full potential.

That said, this decreases my choices of goods, as "fairer" by Democrat definitions from the candidates, will mean more regulation and higher tariffs on imported goods, and higher domestic costing products due to protectionism.  Less freedom.

  • Tax rules favoring workers over investors -Frankly, this is where my heartburn starts – the very fact that politicians know and use the fact that behavior can be mandated by tax policy drives me nuts.  We all need to pay taxes, as we do need government.  But why do I need Nanny Staters to tell me what is better for me and make it cost more to do othewise? 

Once again, that said, the economy needs both investors that can provide the  knowledge and the capital to make things happen and the workers that can actually do the work.  Tax policy should be for revenue generation – not behavior modification.  Again, less freedom.

  • Ending poverty –  This is not going to happen.  Period.  We will always have the poor – the problem is that we in this country keep redefining poverty upward.  Except for the mentally ill and socially / self-destructive individuals among us, we have extremely little poor.  And if you want to fight that, consider that the UN defines the abject poor in the world as subsisting on $1-$2/day.  Remember, it was not that long ago that a study showed that many of our poor owned cars, microwaves, multiple TVs, and so on. Want real poor?  Go to Bangledesh or sub-Saharan Africa; that’s the true definition of poor.  We have spent over $6 trillion in fighting the war on poverty – poverty will never go away.  Yet, Liberals will demand more and more be done without counting the cost.  Less Freedom.

For Tax Year 2005

Percentiles Ranked by AGI

AGI Threshold on Percentiles

Percentage of Federal Personal Income Tax Paid

Top 1%



Top 5%



Top 10%



Top 25%



Top 50%



Bottom 50%



Note: AGI is Adjusted Gross Income
Source: Internal Revenue Service

Note: we are now at the tipping point where the bottom 51% of the population, that p
ay basically no income tax, have enough votes to take anything they want from the actual producers in society (aided, abetted, and encouraged by mostly politicians on the Left).  Is it a good thing when more than half of a society’s citizens no longer have a vested interest in how government actually is run vs that same half expecting to be taken care of?

Note: get two teachers in most districts married to each other, and they hit the top 5% in a lot of cases.  Or just one Congressman (who voted their way into that bracket with our money).

Less freedom because the rich keep defining down what rich is.

  • Cleaner environment – this is  one of the few things that I can agree with.  However, I truly wish that the phrase "cost/benefit ratio" was used more in government.  I also disagree that government should collect a carbon tax – can someone tell me how me giving more money to the bureaucrats is going to result in a cleaner environment commisserate with the money I give?  Neutral
  • Better schools – the simple answer is that we all benefit.  In reality, the teachers unions (think NEA) actually control education here in the US without any real choice among all but the rich (and just look where most rich politicians send their kids!).  Just spending more money on schools will result in one thing – higher paid teachers and administrators.  Does that automatically mean higher academic achievement by students?  Study after study has shown the answer to be "no". 

Unless the Dems are willing to support vouchers which will allow for competition, getting better schools under Democratic rule will not happen – and the Dems are too much beholden to the NEA for that to happen.  More money means more taxes – Less freedom (with me predicting no better results).

  • "taking on the narrow interests that care more about what’s good for them than what’s good for America" – Lets see, strengthening unions (about 12% membership overall – that’s a minority and about 35% in government – still a minority – what does that say for narrow interests?  The Democratic party, it could be argued, is nothing more that a patchquilt of special interests that sometimes agree with each other.  Special interests, by definition, are minority interests.

This is neutral from the standpoint that the Dems would have to vote against themselves.  The reality is Less Freedom, as the Dems will reward those special, narrow interests that get them elected – simple political calculus.


  • all Americans want to get beyond the divisive politics of the last seven years and come together as one country – Ha! heard that already when the Dems swept to power in the House and Senate….with all of the campaign rhetoric, one would have thought a political Uptopia was about to take place in DC, thanks to Pelosi and Reid.  Has it actually happened?  Er, no – this is too silly to rate!
  • Mrs. Clinton – "the Bush administration’s extreme sense of individualism, versus some investment in the common good,".  It has not been an extreme sense of individualism, and I only have to point out that even Mrs. Clinton has pointed out that "American cannot afford all of my ideas" – so much for self-imposed limitation of "some investment".  But if she gets in, she’s already up to $178 Billion in new spending.  Less Freedom

  • Mrs. Clinton again – It "requires people giving up a little bit of their own turf, in order to create this common ground",  "means something has to be taken away from some people." Do I even have to comment on this (er, I actually did – here!).  Less Freedom

Well, let me go tally up the score….umm, common good, eh?  America is about freedom and the Bill of Rights was written to prevent busybodies from infringing on the rest of us.  It seems that this fundamental principle of this Republic has been forgotten by the Democrats. 

Too often for Democrats, "the first thing that gets compromised is the moral ground," says Mr. Lakoff, the Berkeley linguist. "They don’t realize that the moral ground is their major strength."

Once again, he’s way off base – what is so moral about forcibly reducing someone else’s freedom and private property to simply give it to another?

I’d vote for Ron Paul without a second thought before I’d vote for one of these folks…..Yikes!